Cinedelphia focuses on weird Philly films of the past

The Cinedelphia Film Festival, a new entrant into Philadelphia’s ever-changing film festival lineup, focuses on little-known films that have been keeping Philly weird for almost a century. The festival’s central location is a former mausoleum in North Philadelphia reinvented as the Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

Naturally, it’s in the so-called Eraserhood.

The festival bows deeply with apprciations to Larry Fine (Three Stooges), the video art collective Termite TV, local newsreel pulled from Temple University’s film archives, comedy culled from Philly found footage, and bad ’80s horror schlock shot in the city.

Try this scene:

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Interior. Night.

Dan Duryea and Jayne Mansfield are in a dingy apartment in Philadelphia. Duryea needs Mansfield to get out of town so he can fence some stolen jewels.

Mansfield: This trip I’m taking – where do you want me to go?Duryea: Doesn’t matter. New York. Boston.Mansfield: They ain’t exactly health resorts. You said I’m going for my health, remember?Duryea: How about the seashore. Wildwood. Atlantic City.Mansfield: It doesn’t make any difference...Duryea: Atlantic City – is that all right?Mansfield: Yeah, sure it’s all right.

That scene is from a little-known film noir called “The Burglar” with an impressive Philadelphia pedigree. It was shot around the city; written by legendary crime novelist David Goodis, a Philly native; and starred Jayne Mansfield, born (and later buried) in Bryn Mawr.

This local gem and about a dozen more will be part of an evening of short clips and commentary called “Filmadelphia,” presented by Irv Slifkin, who wrote a book of the same name. He is trying to disabuse people of the notion that cinematic Philadelphia began with “Rocky.”

“There’s even films I found that were shot in the Italian Market before Rocky ran through it, or the Art Museum,” said Slifkin. “You know, the famous Rocky running up the steps. There were movies that were shot at the Art Museum before that.”

Perhaps most notably, the 1962 film “David and Lisa,” a drama about a young man and woman who help each other cope with their severe mental disorders. The film used the Art Museum and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a pivotal scene, and later won an Academy Award for its director, Frank Perry.

Editor’s note: Eraserhood was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. See for the neighbohood’s description and Philebrity for the map.

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